Baton Rouge is turning 200 years old in 2017, and city-parish leaders are rolling out events, logos and even a life-size red stick mascot to mark the occasion.
The first known historical record of Baton Rouge being sighted came in 1699, but the city of Baton Rouge was not incorporated until 1817. The first major celebration of the bicentennial will be at the annual Red Stick Revelry party on New Year's Eve in downtown Baton Rouge.
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City-parish leaders are asking businesses and community groups to incorporate the logo that they unveiled Thursday and the spirit of the bicentennial into their events for 2017.
"We have seen and we have been through some tough times this year, and they are never far from our minds," said Mayor-President Kip Holden at a news conference Thursday morning. "But it's also important to celebrate the resilience of our people and our city, pause to recognize great milestones and honor those who came before us."
As Holden, Visit Baton Rouge CEO Paul Arrigo and Assistant Library Director Mary Stein announced the plans for 2017, a "red stick" mascot ambled around the North Boulevard Town Square. People will be invited to toss out their naming ideas for the mascot as part of the bicentennial celebrations.
Arrigo tried to sell the bicentennial as the perfect opportunity to draw more tourists to Baton Rouge. He said the bicentennial will not have one major celebration, but several scattered throughout the year.
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One of the early events as part of the celebration will be December 8, with a shopping and Champagne stroll around downtown.
People who want to submit ideas for bicentennial celebrations can do so on the new website, www.batonrouge200.com. People can also download the logo on the website for businesses and others to use in their branding.
Holden, who is term-limited, will leave office at the beginning of 2017.
"According to archaeologists, Baton Rouge was first settled as early as 12,000 BC," he said Thursday. "Think of it this way — long before the ancient pyramids of Egypt were built, early Native Americans were hunting along the Mississippi River, just steps from where we stand today."